McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren has tested the new 675LT against the clock. It’s just half a second slower than the mighty P1. “A bit too close for comfort,” admitted an engineer to us. Before adding, “it’s also faster than those other two hypercars…”.

That’s a mark of this extraordinary car’s might. You may at first glance think it’s just a tuned up 650S Coupe, like us when we first saw it ahead of the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, but we’d be wrong. 33% of it is completely different to the 650S. The 25hp power boost to 675hp comes courtesy of an engine 50% new.

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The McLaren engineering whizzes set out to create something a little bit special, but then engineering enthusiasm kicked in; they’ve actually created some thing very, very special indeed. Welcome to the McLaren 675LT – the new McLaren Longtail.

OK, so the tail of the McLaren 675LT isn’t actually much longer than the tail of the McLaren 650S Coupe it’s derived from. Actually having a ‘long tail’ isn’t the point here: rather, it’s a car that uses the philosophy being the legendary original McLaren F1 GTR ‘Longtail’.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Which is? Taking a regular car and tirelessly improving it to create a highly honed special with an extremely hardcore focus sold in strictly limited numbers. Only 500 will be built, each costing £259,500. Money’s proven no object: they’re already all sold out.

Besides, it does look tantalisingly different to the 650S in the flesh. With its broader stance, bigger air intakes, ultra-aggressive front splitter, jaw-dropping wheels, beautiful carbonfibre addenda and, of course, that humungous rear Airbrake, the expert eye won’t miss it.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

The untrained eye might, until they see the 675LT in action: when raised, the Airbrake, now stretching the full length of the car into (at huge expense) the rear bodywork, looks staggering. It’s enormous. It’s fully active (adjusting its profile as you drive, tucking away when it senses straights to act like F1 DRS) and effective, and will make other motorists swoon when they see it operate before their eyes.

And that’s what McLaren hopes most 675LTs will be doing – driving. It’s the driver’s McLaren which, for a range of cars that already eyeballs Ferrari and Lamborghini, is saying something. See it as McLaren’s Ferrari 458 Speciale – and boy, is it special.

2015 McLaren 675LT: on the road

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

On McLaren’s Silverstone launch, we drove it in two stages – and fittingly, the on-track part came first. McLaren wanted us to find the limits quickly, so we could concentrate on the experience out on the road. It’s a measure of how talented the car is that we were happily doing this within three laps, with sky-high confidence.

This is a serious engineering project: when engineers reveal “there’s some P1 in the front suspension”, you listen. With 40% more downforce to deal with, front suspension is 27% stiffer and the Airbrake-pressed rear is 60% stiffer. “It’s been tuned to be more agile,” they told us. “And the steering is even faster than the P1…”

Despite grippier track-biased Pirelli Trofeo tyres, McLaren’s reengineered the ESP so you can more easily burn them out – there’s even a dedicated Track ESP mode plus, rather surprisingly, a ‘burnout’ mode – the 675LT will lay down long, long lines of black rubber if you so wish. And do donuts. This sounds a seriously unhinged bit of car.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Thing is, it’s not wild and crazy. Just very focused and very, very good. On track, with all its grip, agility, direct-connection feel and eye-opening extra bite when the ‘aero’ setting of the Airbrake kicks in, it gives the fantastic feeling of getting better the faster you go.

It’s two or three levels above most supercars, with aspects such as the Airbrake-enhanced brakes, sensuous steering and frankly ridiculous speeds at which you can chuck it about and get sideways if you don’t want to drive it in the purist way you should do with something this capable all combining to deliver a driving experiential whirlwind.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

On the road, it’s naturally taut, rolling along with a racecar’s attitude and poise. Potent, from the first turn of the is-it-really-this-direct, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel. But again, it’s not aggressive, doesn’t feel it might chew your arm off. Just egg you into driving very, very illegally.

McLaren’s complicated adaptive suspension keeps the body flat and in control without tearing into B-road intrusions, while the precision you can steer it despite the explosive engine is a step on even from the ultra-accurate 650S. Even the panoramic front visibility helps here: steer it on the nose but also see exactly where you’ve just placed that nose.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

It’s a breathless experience if you want it to be, because the car’s so much better than you, but still tries to involve you and won’t remain aloof if you’re not up to it. The 675LT also works on the road, though, despite all this track-optimised brilliance, and it’s this combination that will make you chew wasps that they’re only making 500.

The engine? Sensational. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear it’s from a race car; that’s how wild it sounds. The wail at ultra-high revs is incredible and performance is something else: it makes light work of Silverstone’s F1-grade long straights, never mind the roads around it.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren has fitted stiffer engine mounts so you can ‘feel’ the engine more, and ignition cut on sport-mode gearchanges, for aggressively, thumpingly instantaneous shifts. The speed is class-leading, the sensations fantastic. The engine even ‘revs up and down’ faster: it’ll change speed at 31,000rpm in a second. Be in little doubt, that makes for a awe-inspiring engine in practice.

Oh yeah, and if you think 25hp more doesn’t sound like much, do also note the 675LT is also 100kg lighter than the 650S…

0-62mph in 2.9 seconds, for the record; 0-124mph in 7.9 seconds, and a 205mph top speed (but that bit’s immaterial, say the McLaren engineers – acceleration’s where it’s at). Faster than you’ll ever need, then – but it’s how it delivers this, and what it then lets you do with it, that’s so fantastic.

2015 McLaren 675LT: on the inside

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

“We didn’t want to create a stripped-out special,” say the McLaren engineers. That would have been the cheaper, easier route. So instead, they’ve again created a highly bespoke interior that’s like a Le Mans racer but also like something posh that will readily swallow a continent or two.

The dashboard is 650S-lite, with extra carbon fibre but fewer heater control dials on the door panels. In the name of weight-saving and simplicity, they’ve been stripped out, with the central touchscreen now multi-funtionally taking their place.

Seats are deep, stiff, Alcantara-trimmed bodyguards of support. It’s a struggle even to get into them if you’re wearing the wrong jeans, and they certainly won’t let you roll about once within them. It may give McLaren some future warranty work in retrimming the side bolsters, mind.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Lots of bits are as per 650S; the rev counter is the same but for the 675LT branding. There’s one distinct differentiator though – McLaren’s onboard lap timer infotainment system, called McLaren Track Telemetry. It’s superb. Within a lap, it will detect the track you’re driving on – and then start displaying lap times in real time, just like those we watch during F1 qualifying.

There’s more. String together a sequence and it will show you how far ‘up’ or ‘down’ you are on your best lap. Even better, it will illuminate individual corners on the map in red or green, depending on if you’re faster or slower.

Best of all, you can order a trio of cameras to go with it – one looking ahead, one looking behind, one filming you. This will overlay with the car data and you can download the whole lot to a USB circuit to analyse at home or, more likely, share on YouTube. And how cool is that?

2015 McLaren 675LT: running costs

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

McLaren being McLaren, this hasn’t been overlooked. It emits 275g/km CO2 on the official cycle, and will average 24.2mpg. If you ever see that flashing on the trip computer, though, you’re doing something wrong. Because this isn’t a car for cruising.

That’s why running costs may be, er, a little high. Those Trofeo tyres are not cheap. It will devour fuel on track. Because it feels so much like a bespoke racing car, you’ll want to make sure it’s engineered to a suitable level during ownership, and that also costs.

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

But who cares. The people who’ve bought this have several other cars anyway, and a couple of thousand pounds on the credit card whenever it needs it isn’t going to worry them. Quite right. McLaren’s spent so much time and money creating the 675LT with these people in mind, and it’s the focus on its core customers that’s the reason it’s so great.

Besides, they’re actually a canny bunch. So superb is the 675LT, so pure to its purpose and already iconic, it’s hardly going to depreciate. In today’s exalted supercar climate, that quarter-million price tag is only likely to spiral.

You’ll spend a bit running it, then. But you’ll get that back when you sell it over and over again. If you could ever bear to part with it, that is…

2015 McLaren 675LT: verdict

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

The McLaren 675LT is fantastic. Fast, entertaining and utterly charismatic, it’s a bespoke-tuned version of a mainstream car that has limitless appeal and, with its Airbrake, P1 suspension, track-tuned suspension,F1-grade interior and frankly ridiculous speed, huge allure.

It’s limited to 500, it costs a quarter of a million quid and they’re all sold out anyway. It doesn’t matter. McLaren’s intention with the 675LT was to create a model that will define a new series of cars, offering LT-branded step-up ‘Speciale’ tuning over the standard cars, without straying into P1-style exclusivity.

It’s done this brilliantly. The 675LT is focused, flippin’ fast and flooding-in-sensations fantastic. Far more extreme than a 650S Coupe – which you should note if you’re hopeful of trading up from one (you’ll be stunned by the extra attitude, the sheer intensity) – but that’s what makes it so epic.

Unfair to give a car you can’t even buy, and which costs £259,500, a full five stars? Not at all. The 675LT really does deserve no less.

2015 McLaren 675LT: specifications

McLaren 675LT 2015 review

Engine: 3.8-litre V8 twin-turbo

Price: £259,500

Power: 675hp

Torque: 516lb ft (700Nm)

0-62mph: 2.9 seconds

Top speed: 205mph (330km/h)

Fuel economy: 24.2mpg (11.7l/100km)

CO2 emissions: 275g/km